One of the few genuinely Chinese foods that I make on a semi-regular basis is dumplings. When I am out to eat in Chinatown, I am somewhat dubious of the cooking methods of veggie dumplings and have seen them go into that same poaching water as regular meaty dumplings. An easy solution is simply to make my own. While it is somewhat of a process, you can easily make a whole tray full, freeze them, and store them in a storage bag, all while watching Glee on Netflix. This is also a good dinner solution of busy or lazy days.
The filling can change based on what you find fresh. I normally usually make sure that there is crumbled tofu or tempeh as the base and a mix of vegetables and herbs to round out the filling. my mom has also sometimes scrambled a couple of eggs, breaking them into small pieces, to increase the protein. Cooked and cut vermicelli is also a good way to bulk up the filling. This particular dumpling is filled with crumbled tofu, grated carrot, garlic chives, onion, bean sprouts, and cabbage.
I prefer to steam-pan fry my dumplings/potstickers and I suggest this method to you, too. Simply heat up lightly oil a non stick skillet, add the dumplings and a bit of water (enough to come up about 1/3 inch) and steam until the skins are cooked through and somewhat translucent. Remove the lid and boil off the remaining water and crisp up with skins on at least two sides. Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice. I grew up eating these with a delightfully tangy combination of vinegar, soy sauce, and toasted sesame oil.
Vegetable Dumplings/Potstickers (Gyoza)
1 block of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed very well and crumbled
2 carrots, grated
1/2 medium onion, minced
~2-3 cups green or napa cabbage, thinly sliced (i just used about 1/4 of a medium head)
3 green onions, sliced thinly
~2 cups mung bean sprouts, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, well minced
1 bunch of garlic chives, minced
1 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot starch
soy sauce or tamari
garlic chili sauce
some fun additions (if you have them on hand):
finely chopped mushrooms
finely cut and cooked vermicelli
1-2 packages of gyoza wrappers (i usually get the locally made variety marked “thick” and does not contain dough conditioners and other dubious chemicals)
in a large pan, saute all of the vegetables and tofu until mostly cooked through. if you are using a large amount of herbs (like garlic chives) you can throw them in at the end, right before you cut off the heat. you mostly want to remove a lot of the moisture of the vegetables, in particular the cabbage. I normally do this in batches and combine everything together at the end. mix in the cornstarch and seasonings. keep tasting as you go.
sprinkle flour on a sheet pan and prepare a small bowl of warm water. fill and crimp your dumplings like how your mom showed you. or, refer to this. to keep things simple, normally only do one pleat per side. swipe the water along the edge of the wrapper; it acts like the “glue” that will seal up the dumpling. as you work, line the dumplings up on the prepared sheet pan and keep them covered with a kitchen towel to keep them from drying up. you can then freeze them and transfer them to a storage bag or pan fry them immediately. enjoy with a dipping sauce of your choice.